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Halfords suffers a puncture in the customer details department

UK automobile service and parts seller Halfords has shared the details of its customers a little too freely, according to the findings of a security researcher.

Like many, cyber security consultant Chris Hatton used Halfords to keep his car in tip-top condition, from tires through to the annual safety checks required for many UK cars.

In January, Hatton replaced a tire on his car using a service from Halfords. It’s a simple enough process – pick a tire online, select a date, then wait. A helpful confirmation email arrived with a link for order tracking. A curious soul, Hatton looked at what was happening behind the scenes when clicking the link and “noticed some API calls that seemed ripe for an IDOR” [Insecure Direct Object Reference].

Armed with an email address, Hatton was able to extract all manner of information about his booking, including his telephone number, car details, and the exact location of his home.

A few months later, Hatton decided to book a service and received, once again, an email exposing another exploitable endpoint. This time an email wasn’t required. Just an ID. “It is simply an ID that increments with each order,” he said.

Again, all customer details associated with that ID could be retrieved. He tried incrementing the ID and other customers turned up. “Through the Order ID,” he said, “it seems likely that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of different orders can be found, each containing [personally identifiable information].”

In January, Hatton responsibly contacted Halfords to warn the company of the vulnerability. Sadly, his efforts were rewarded mostly by a stony silence until The Register got in touch.

A spokesperson told us: “Halfords takes the security of our customer data very seriously.

“In this case we’ve been made aware of a potential vulnerability in one of our customer-facing systems. No bank or payment details have been at risk.

“We’ve removed the vulnerability and we’ll be implementing an immediate review of our screening protocols to help ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

The Register contacted UK watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and was told: “We do not appear to have received a data breach report from Halfords on this matter.

“Not all data breaches need to be reported to the ICO. Organizations must notify the ICO within 72 hours of becoming aware of a personal data breach, unless it does not pose a risk to people’s rights and freedoms.”

The incident is reminder of the need for organizations to provide an open channel of communication for researchers and, for goodness’ sake, to stop ejecting customer details upon the slightest prod. ®